What is mindset?

Let’s be clear, we all have our own mindset. Thank goodness, as it would be a dull old world if we all had the same outlook.

So, what do we mean when we say mindset?

Mindset is the way in which our mind has become set about something. It’s how we make sense of the world.

Mindset is the set of beliefs you hold that affect how you think, feel and behave. For example, if you had a bad experience at school, your experiences around education may be negative. This means your views and beliefs about education are affected by your experiences and personal knowledge, good or bad, correct or incorrect. Your mindset about education is your own specific set of attitudes, your personal way of thinking in relation to education.

Changing your mindset

It can be hard to change your own mindset. However, when we have new experiences or learn new information, it is possible that our mindset can be amended. Because we are able to introduce new views and beliefs, this can alter our mindset over time.

Mindset shift

An excellent example of mindset and mindset shift is if you believe you are no good at maths. Possibly your experience of learning maths at school was not great. Far too often, it’s what we perceive to be true, rather than the actual truth, which affects our mindset. So, you may think you are no good at maths, because you only ever got 50 % in tests or because your maths teacher once said that maths wasn’t your best subject.

Indeed, once our mind believes we are no good at something, like maths, it looks for evidence to prove our mindset correct. For instance, if you miscalculate the change in a shop, it’s hardly proof that you’re “no good at maths”, but it helps to reinforce that particular belief.

To shift your mindset, you need to notice your positive experiences around maths. Maybe you got a C in your maths exam, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do maths. In fact, it means you can do maths to a level above many, many other people. Reading up about the average in exams or learning from other people’s experiences of maths can help, as can having lessons as an adult and relearning maths from your school days. You may even realise just how much you do remember.

Okay, okay, so this might not make you feel as though you’re a maths genius. But that’s not what we are aiming to do here; we are looking at shifting your mindset from believing you are no good at something to giving it a go and realising you’re actually okay. In fact, you’re more than okay.

Of course, you have probably worked this out already, but then the more positive experiences you have, the more your brain will look for these positive reinforcements rather than the negative ones. It’s almost like a tipping point where we stop looking for the negatives and start seeking the positives.

Can I change the mindset of my team members?

In reality, no. Each of us holds our own mindset, and each of us has the ability to alter that mindset or indeed not alter it. It’s not something that can be done to us as such. However, by providing staff with positive experiences and opportunities to learn new information and understand other options, they are more likely to have a shift in mindset. Although, if they are adamant they don’t want to change their view, this can be a huge challenge.

How does mindset and mindset shifting affect the workplace?

Let me use the example of my own work in organisations, where we need staff to shift their mindset regarding innovation and enterprise. Some staff may feel it’s not their responsibility to be enterprising and innovative, that they don’t have the skills needed and that the leaders should be doing these things.

During workshops, we talk about the skills we all possess and the skills needed to be innovative and enterprising. Seeing how many of these skills they have, and how, as they are doing these activities as teams, they don’t need all the skills, but rather the team needs a combination of the skills, helps staff feel more able to get involved.

We then run mini innovation and enterprise activities, so staff can increase their confidence, develop new skills, experience what is expected of them and see the results. These positive experiences begin to help with a mindset shift.

However, far too often, I see companies reinforcing people’s negative mindset around innovation and enterprise by running poorly managed projects, setting staff members up to fail and not feeding back experiences. These activities reinforce the negative and prove to an already poor mindset that they are indeed no good at innovation.

What should you do now?

Think about what useless mindsets you hold and how you could make shifts in these views and beliefs to help you achieve more. Look for ways in which you can experience positive opportunities and learn new information to help make the shift.

To make a shift, you need to examine your current mindset and why this isn’t serving you well in what you are trying to achieve. Consider the benefits of making the mindset shift and understand why you want to make that shift. Look for the most up-to-date and correct information to help form your views. Seek out good role models and the best people to learn from. Get support from a coach or a mentor and learn to celebrate small shifts. Best of luck!

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